I’m still pinching myself! We got our ACE NLPG funding for Neurophototherapy 2 in February, and went live in March. It will run until December 2023. Despite an ongoing bout of ill health, I’m living the dream.

Neurophototherapy 1 was a solo project. I’m now thrilled to work with a group of participants to develop and disseminate a creative tool for late discovered autistic people, using photography, performance and collage. I’m blessed to have my long term collaborator the collagist and learning and participation specialist, Miranda Millward, on board. We have some stellar partners too (see below)!

Since 2016, I’ve been researching accessible project designs and developing best practice models for working with neurodivergent artists. It feels like I’ve been inching ever closer to this moment. Working as an autistic project lead has often been as difficult as it is rewarding. In fact, it never failed to take a toll on my health and wellbeing until I hit on my Neurophototherapy concept and worked remotely.

Both my concept and my newfound assurance about working online have come as a result of the pandemic. When ‘life stopped’ something changed. I wrote to ACE about my ‘covid pivot’ in my project application. I needed to unmask my autistic identity in my creative practice, rather than merely be an advocate and write about it. I’ve since developed this thinking a little further – all the many strands of my work (including writing, advocacy, and consultancy) are my creative practice too. This reframing works now that I have been through the transformative process that is Neurophototherapy.

Enabling access is the heartbeat of this work with a small focus group of autistic creatives, and it’s the best gig in the world. Our starting point was to establish communication preferences and create accessible resources for our participants. We are now coming to the close of our ‘maker phase’. Each participant has been mentored 1-1 through a creative process to respond and contribute to the Neurophototherapy method. Their feedback and enrichment of my original concept is already extraordinary. Bearing witness to participants work with my ideas is both uncanny and a buzz. I’ve developed a methodology that works!

What is also extraordinary is the commonality between us. We are quite a diverse group, and yet as late discovered autistic women we share so many challenges. For example, co occurring chronic conditions which flare inconsiderately in the middle of projects! Many of us are also subject to precarity, of various kinds. Our lives are complex, getting through a day can be an achievement in itself when stuff starts to happen, as it invariably does. It’s an ND life.

I’m so glad I’ve learned to factor in a great deal of flex. When ND life happens and it feels like the project wheels might fall off the bus, I don’t have to stress. When you put access at the heart of a project you belt, buckle and brace it, and then you take out insurance. I can’t thank Arts Council England enough for trusting me to do this and believing in my idea.

This flexibility has meant we’ve been able to extend our ‘maker phase’ for two weeks. What follows is the joy of pulling our findings together; firstly, for an online gallery exhibition on the Autograph website, and subsequently for our publication.

Watch this space!


Partners include:

Autograph, Crafts Council, Kanyer Art Collection, NSEAD, Wellcome Collection (Access Team),

We’re also thrilled to be working with Prof. Nicola Shaughnessy, Associate Prof. Claire Penketh, and the writer Joanne Limburg.




This post comes at the very end of this most surprising of projects. My finger has even momentarily hovered over the submit button of the  final report on the Grantium portal.

Anxiety always makes me early, so I can afford to sit on it for a few days. I think I need to remind myself that this has been a research and development project. Also, that I am a neurodivergent person! This will explain why the evaluation has felt like landing a space ship on a postage stamp. We go deep!

Alongside a more polished online exhibition, I have eagerly shared many of my process works on Instagram, along with my backstory. Today I had an interesting conversation, in which I realised such process works are perhaps often not understood. The truth is I’ve been in thrall to the collage form, which has sparked a fever of making! I promised ACE I would make 16 works and I now have an archive of 215+ works stacked in neat boxes. Collage drew me in & ordered me to submit to a form I had underestimated. I would love to see it more considered in the Arts, but I digress.

Process is making, and making is art. There are even skills to be learned on the way. All obvious points I know, but I think it is easy to forget about the importance of humble making.

Today I happened also to read Against Neoliberal Dogma: Art And Creativity by Jörg M. Colberg, which I found illuminating.

“In the creative field the real outcome of anything you do is only partly provided by the end result. The process itself — that’s where the actual enjoyment (and frustrations) lie.

Social media make this fact very hard to see, because everybody only talks about outcomes (which obviously are always super successful). The struggles of the process and the inevitable failures remain hidden. Nobody wants to talk about that because in a neoliberal world, your public face depends on being seen as successful.”

It is easy to get caught in this trap as an artist, I know. I feel glad to have sprung it, because my project is about unmasking to centre my autistic identity in my work, and in any case my work has always been process-led.

Key to my unmasking is a renewed unwillingness to perform, conform or submit to neurotypical expectations.  They are disabling for me, and I refuse to be shaped (and in the process crushed) by them. The process is the point.

So quite naturally this project took me deeper in to my process, and continue my research (ACE project by ACE project) to work as accessibly as I can, and find ways to articulate the need for system change. Emergent from all this process work is a new language and my fever is also that of finally finding the means to speak in a way that is not verbal or text based. I only recently identified my own situational mutism (SM), through my contact with an artist & close friend called Sonja Zelić, who is a longstanding advocate for SM.

Instagram has been my studio & my sketchbook throughout my project, & I have loved every minute of it.

Polished work can be a thing of great beauty & value, obviously. Innovative  work in the making is something quite other. My project has been humbling, it has also felt generous & brave.  I hope you’ll pop over to view xx





Thank you Arts Council England! My Neurophototherapy R&D project has had the most profound impact on my practice and in my life too.

The gifts of Neurophototherapy have included collage, and a deep immersion in the collage form and online community. This has powered a prolonged maker/research phase, and altered some of my outcomes. Although I have hit all my targets I’ve needed extra time.

Oh, and that’s another thing! ACE, you were wonderful in understanding that neurodivergent practice sometimes takes longer and needs more space.  My additional three months were granted speedily and with such compassion! Personal circumstances have changed under this long pandemic and this was so sensitively handled.

The greatest gift though is that of CONGRUENCE. This is something I talk and write about often. Achieving autistic selfhood can be an extremely perilous journey in a neurotypical world. This new transitional work, my new collage book EYE SPY BARCELONA (NEURO) nails it! I’ve finally found a way to bring all the elements of my autobiographical practice together, and here I fuse my postmemory practice and my work on neurodivergence.

This resolves the often painful schism I have experienced between my creative practice and my personal and professional advocacy. Of course, this is a personal choice. We don’t have to make work about identity, but I work autobiographically! I needed to do the emotional processing and creative working through that Neurophotherapy R&D has allowed. Photomontage and collage has provided the necessary medium to get me there.

I am so very grateful for the empowerment and energy this brings, and excited by all the conversations this project has also supported. My work is resonating and impacting across the globe, thanks to the online community. I’ve become intensely interested in collage as a powerfully transforming medium, and in the next step for this work. There are many, many avenues and iterations that are possible. My head’s in a spin and my collage fever continues!

You can see all my collage work on my Instagram account @s_boue

I have a dedicated highlight on this account called EYE SPY, where you can see all the pages.


Neurophototherapy has been full of delightful surprises, not least that the maker phase – supposedly occurring at the beginning of the project – has continued throughout it. Immersing myself in the collage community on Instagram has given me a whole new respect for the form. I often seem to set myself a challenge and my restless brain seeks newness with great regularity. I guess this is why a wide ranging multiform practice suits me so well, in addition to being conceptually right for me at a very deep level. It’s right for my brain and the neurodivergent strand of my practice, and right for the embodiment of postmemory trauma that is the backbone of so much of my work to this day. I channel the need to improvise and adapt to circumstances that displacement brings – I am the daughter of a refugee and political exile. I carry this with me everyday.

The result of  adopting a new form is that I have felt like a beginner again. I always do this to myself, and it also keys in to feelings of being the youngest child (no matter how old I get or how young everyone around me!) and being an outsider, both culturally and as an autistic person. It can be both scary and breathtaking – but the fact is that I LOVE it and I need the stimulation! It’s one of the ways in which we neurodivergents can be disadvantaged in the Arts (which seems to privilege consistency within a practice). But I digress.

This extended making has seen me free up a little. It’s very different making work for exhibition (albeit very fluid and open ended in this project) and making off-the-cuff, without intentions. My Book of Boué’s has arrived as a gift! A late baby, if you like, and I do like it rather a lot. In fact I’m a little in love with my Book of Boué’s. I have a brilliant collage mentor called Miranda Millward (@scissorspaperpaste on Instagram) and we share a very close, warm and often humorous relationship. Saying that I would never part with my Book of Boué’s Miranda jokingly asked if I wouldn’t even give it to her. I’ll leave it to you in my will, I said, only half joking.

Having said all of the above, one feature that I particularly enjoyed about working directly into a book was the discipline of working through the pages. I loved the rhythm of ticking off and sharing the pages and also the sense of completion at the end. Since making my Book of Boué’s I have made several more #collage_between_the_covers responses and feel I will make more.

You can see more pages from the Book of Boué’s at @s_boue


Image description: Head and shoulders shot of Sonia Boue as an adult, holding a vanity mirror over her face. The back of the mirror has been collaged with spliced photographs of Sonia’s face as an adult and child.

I’m delighted to be soft launching my online exhibition for this R&D project, exploring ways of sharing work which suits my neurology.

Origin Story has been published on my website for about 10 days now, and I’ve been slowly sharing the link with some of my contacts before sending out my SM posts yesterday.

I’ve created multiple formats for my exhibition to make it as accessible as I can, whilst also thinking carefully about my own needs as an autistic artist. Conventional templates for how we showcase work are not compatible with my neurology, dictating a certain kind attention-seeking when showing work. These conventions create barriers for me, and I’ve needed to find ways to subvert them. This aspect of my research matters because so many aspects of exhibition are disabling. I want to write about this quite strongly in my project evaluations to ACE.

The pandemic has given our sector pause for reflection, individually we’ve also all probably had to reassess our priorities during this extended hiatus. I know I have, even pivoting my practice to adapt to this strange new reality of ‘living with covid’. It’s not business as usual, and there’s no going back (for me) to what was. I welcome this slewing of skin and I am confident that my project can reach the parts that no other project can, because it is powered by innate autistic navigational means, not despite me being autistic. My project has already generated unexpected outcomes and exceeded expectations.

I’ve always been about producing quality work and leaving a solid online trail. This is my hallmark and I’ve built a career this way quite naturally and without intention. For me it’s about the work first. I put it out there and see what happens without expectation. It’s okay to be quietly confident and self-contained.

I’m no longer willing or able to ask for attention in a performance of ‘neurotypicality’. My project is about autistic unmasking and it’s been a big success on that score. It’s logical and also necessary to my emancipation as an autistic professional to follow through. This moment is about turning the tide .

As Neurophototherapy gently unfurls I simply note and welcome the responses. I’m watchful in all respects, noting also when the work is met with indifference. Knowing who your audiences are (who genuinely values you) is key. I’m so grateful to Arts Council England for supporting me to do this my way.